Mum-of-five’s disabled kids miss months of school after being denied transport


Single mum Rehana Saleem, 38, of Manchester, has been forced to fight to secure transport to school for two of her children who suffer from congenital muscular dystrophy

Attiqah, five, was supposed to start school in September but she is still at home
Attiqah, five, was supposed to start school in September but she is still at home

A single mum says two of her disabled children missed months of school after being denied help with transport.

Rehana Saleem’s son Ammar, 14, could not go to school for almost four months due to a lack of trained escorts, the Manchester Evening News reports.

The mum then encountered the same issue with her daughter Attiqah, five, who was supposed to start school in September but is still at home.

Rehana, 38, of Manchester, says she was told that her two children require escorts trained in suction as they have congenital muscular dystrophy.

The problems started in March 2019 when she was instructed there was no longer an escort available for Ammar, a pupil at Lancastrian Primary and High in Didsbury.

The mum-of-five says this was because the escort was not trained in suction – the ability to clear his airways.

Ammar missed out on months at school before finally receiving help with transport
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Rehana claims this was resolved in mid June as she signed a waiver, claiming her son only needs the escort done in the morning.

“Ammar missed close to four months of school over this,” she explained.

Her daughter Attiqah was supposed to be starting at the same school in September but after being informed once again there was no escort for the same reason, she was unable to start school as she planned.

Rehana says despite desperately trying to resolve this, she was left not knowing what was happening for months.

She said: “No one would give me a direct answer.”

Rehana says the only child who is able to independently travel to and from school is her 15-year-old daughter Hafsa.

Her other children Habba, 10 and Nusayba, seven, need her to take them to school and back, meaning she relies on help for Ammar and Attiqah.

She said: “What I really want to highlight is how a lot of families with disabled children are made to feel like an inconvenience. How there is lack of communication between the agency and the families.

“For example if I needed information I, as a citizen, cannot get further than the switchboard. The council website gives no information about who is in charge.

“Also I feel as though the manager or person in charge does not see the children as anything more than numbers on the page.

“They don’t see that these are children who have a right to an education – which they are hindering.”

Rehana says the application for transport was approved in August but her daughter was not picked up in September when school started.

And she says she had no contact from the school until November and did not know why her daughter was not being picked up until she discovered it was a suction issue.

Rehana claims she then signed another waiver again and was told last week her daughter could start school in January pending a risk assessment on her buggy.

Prior to this outcome a spokesperson for Manchester council said: “Where a child has complex medical needs it can be difficult to source staff with the right medical training to safely support them as they travel to and from school.

“We’re in contact with Attiqah’s family and are discussing all available travel solutions with them and are hoping we can resolve matters very soon now.”

Despite being relieved her daughter will soon be back in school, Rehanna says she has still missed months of important schooling and says she wants to see more being done to stop this happening.

“I don’t want this to happen to any other family,” she said.

“The major part was the lack of communication, I had no go to person to go to to ask about my child.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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